Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009!

Here's hoping for a better 2010.

It's cold and drizzly here, and we are -- well, not as broke as we have ever been (that would be five years ago) but pretty rotten broke: down to one vehicle, scraping by in the last week of every month by digging quarters out of the kid's bank and hunting through old coat pockets; deciding each month which bills we don't absolutely have to pay (for instance, the water company will let you slide with a partial payment every now and then, we have found, whereas the electric company will cut your ass right off); doing without the dentist, not filling prescriptions, or refilling prescriptions only sometimes; keeping our heat at sixty-four; and we are middle class.  We have jobs, we have health insurance.

I think sometimes what life on the working class level, or the life of my students, is like.

On the other hand: we live two blocks from the library and the post office, three blocks from the grocery.  We do have jobs, even if Herr Doctor Delagar's job is still only part-time.  None of us are really seriously ill.  (No one is dying, as I tell HDD frequently.) 

Things could be worse.

And maybe 2010 will be better.  Here's hoping.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back Home And Writing

We drove back from New Orleans yesterday, trying to beat the storm which was supposed to smite Pork Smith, only it didn't.  But it's just as well, b/c now we can hole up and write away.  I'm gnawing away at revisions (I have finally decided how to fix a couple of novels) and Herr Doctor Delagar is working on his new novel.  Outside, the sky is low and white; inside, the house, which has zero insulation, is filled with huddled, well-wrapped writers, burrowed dogs, and the scent of coffee and baking bread.  Perfect writing weather.

I'm making bagels today; HDD is making French bread.  Later, some nice beef vegetable soup.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Posting: Light.... non-existent.

We are traveling to visit my parents & other relatives starting at dawn tomorrow, so posting will be sparse over the next several days.  Y'all have fun & eggnog without me! 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh, yay!

Another rejection!

This one from Britian!  A transnational Rejection!

Do I rock or what?

In other new, I finished a draft of my short SF story.  (Short = under 5000 words.)  I'm extremely impressed with myself.  Writing anything under 100,000 words used to be impossible for me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Utter Coolness

(SF Whackitudes Only)

(Although yes also this

It's telling that Cameron describes the resulting tongue as something that is "pronounceable" yet sounds "exotic and not specific to human languages." But if the phonetic elements of Pandoran are all derived from actual languages of the world, then how are they "not specific to human languages"? A charitable reading of Cameron's quote is that the sounds of Pandoran aren't specific to any single human language. Less charitably, one might wonder if Cameron thinks that the far-flung languages contributing to Pandoran don't quite sound "human" to him.)

Yay Virginia!

Trust Women: Respect Choice.

Why can't we have these license plates in Arkansas?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Love and Need

The kid and I were discussing how much she loves drawing, how much I love writing and teaching.

Nothing on either side was said. 
They knew they had but to stay their stay 
And all their logic would fill my head: 
As that I had no right to play 
With what was another man's work for gain. 
My right might be love but theirs was need. 
And where the two exist in twain 
Theirs was the better right--agreed.

But yield who will to their separation, 
My object in living is to unite 
My avocation and my vocation 
As my two eyes make one in sight. 
Only where love and need are one, 
And the work is play for mortal stakes, 
Is the deed ever really done 
For Heaven and the future's sakes.


Now here's a fine story.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kelly Jennings (Author)

How cool is this?

(Pretty fucking cool, I have to tell you.)

Update II

I am nearly done with grading, and making delicious headway on my new SF story, which is called (at the moment) Subverting The Data, and is about an Ann Coulter quotation.  No, really! (No, not really.)

In other news, I did not (yet) mop the kitchen floor.

Also, Herr Dr. Delagar and I have been watching Bones on the downloads nightly, and I am thinking I might have a paper in what is happening with the characters this season.  Didn't Brennan used to be a kick-ass tough feminist?  I seem to remember she had mad martial arts skilz and that?  What's with this how she needs Booth to rescue her from peril this season? And can't, all of a sudden, negotiate social situations?  That was a trope in season one, I recall, for a few episodes, but they dropped that shit.  Now it's back.

Also, my fuck, what's with the Patriot Act crap?  Dissidents are demons now, I see.

Well, we are on Fox Network.  But still.

On one hand, this is one of the few shows where we have People of Color in major roles as well as actual women characters in major roles, doing real things (notice how easily this show passes the Bechdel Test) like real people. 

On the other hand: boy, did it slide to the reactionary this season.  I wish I could pretend I didn't know what was up with that.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I am at the stage of grading where I will do anything rather than read another essay.

Today, for instance, I was studying the kitchen floor, thinking to myself how I really ought to get to mopping.

They aren't even bad essays, either.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


It's that time of the semester.

Final Grades are due in by the 17th (I think -- I should check that); each semester I put off starting grading longer and longer.

This semester I seem to have given myself just 4 days to do it in.

Luckily I am  SUPER PROFESSOR!!1!

(When the kid and I wrote that once -- wrote !!1! -- Herr Doctor Delagar asked, all puzzled, "Why have you put a one in the middle of your exclamation points?"  And he was serious.)

Friday, December 11, 2009


XKCD cracks me up again.


So yesterday I figured out FaceBook (sort of...I'm still like a FaceBook Toddler; Mouse is walking me through the hard parts).  This means I now blog and FaceBook and have email and gmail and Lj and by the time I run through all of that, it's like two hours down, and who has time to write?

Yes!  Procrastination accomplished!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More News!

More news from Crossed Genres!

All y'all who write erotic SF, here's your venue.  

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Kid Amuses Me

The Kid, as you may have heard, cannot decide whether she wants to be a manga artist, a cartoonist, a game designer, a breeder of cats, or a stand-up comedienne for her adult career.

Just in case it comes to the last, however, she is working on her stand-up routine.  Yesterday she previewed a bit for me: if I had YouTube Skilz, I would YouTube.  As it is, you will have to visualize.  The Kid uses her two hands as puppets, each talking, like ducks.  She does robot-like voices.

Hand One: Hel-lo, Hu-Mans.  We Come In Peaces.

Hand Two: In PEACE, you Idiot!

Hand One: In Peaces.

Hand Two: In PEACE!

Hand One: Peaces.

Hand Two: Look in the instruction book, you idiot! It's Peace!

Hand One: (scribbling in an imaginary instruction book, adding an S, I assume): See? We Come in Peaces.

Hand Two: You -- you just added a scribble!  That's just a scribble!  It's We Come in Peace!

Hand One: (Smugly): Peaces.

Hand Two attacks Hand One, viciously, and they have a spitting snarling fight, which ends with Hand one limp on the bed and Hand Two upright, saying,

Hand Two: Hel-Lo, Hu-Mans.  I come in Peace.  He (gestures to the fallen Hand One) comes in pieces.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Semester Crashes to a Halt!

It's the last days of class and the beginning of exams, and that sound you hear is students panicking all over the landscape. Me, I've had a rising innundation of desperate freshmen*, many of them weeping and gnashing their essays, all morning. Luckily, my offices hours now are ended and I can go home and deal with short stories for Crossed Genres and papers for my beloved nephew and revisions of novels for me.

Also housecleaning, since Herr Doctor Delagar has decided he wants to hold an end-of-semester party for his Poetry Workshop.

"I will help you clean up," he says.

I deserve a medal, because I did not smack him. Hard.

*My favorite today? A student who cited his article's source as "Google."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

True Grit News

As my long-time readers know, True Grit is one of my favorite novels, so much so that I kind of strong-armed the English department here into using it as the department-wide text next semester (we're doing one of those everyone-reads-the-same-book deals).  I had been using the book in my ENGL 1213 class, which requires a novel; when the department floated the idea of everyone reading the same book, I coaxed and badgered and wheedled until they gave in (not just to shut me up, I'm sure) and chose True Grit.

It's a perfect choice for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it's an excellent book, and set in the area.  Also, of course, Charles Portis was not just born in Arkansas, but still lives here.  This is useful for pointing out to our students (Look -- you too can etc).

Also, the novel is written not in 19th century British dialect (as some of the novels & plays I had been trying to teach were), but in 19th century Arkansas dialect, which really isn't very different from 21st century Arkansas dialect: that is, many of my students still talk this way.  Whenever some student demands to know, in outrage, what this bit of dialect is supposed to mean ("I've had my bait of this," Mattie says at one point, for instance), half the class erupts in reply ("You've never heard that?" they demand.  "We say that over in Paris all the time!")

Also, it's got a fast-driving plot; also, it's filled with plenty to discuss -- gender, class-issues, race issues, parallels between the Civil War and the Viet Nam war, justice & revenge -- also, there's the movie, the John Wayne movie: AND! NOW!

The Coen brothers are making what can't help but be a better version of the movie.

They've got Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, and Josh Brolin, and are casting for Mattie in Memphis this weekend.  Plus, they're planning to stick closer to the actual book.  That previous movie makes steam come from my ears -- it's like a radio playing just off the station, the way it keeps just not quite getting things right.  Grr.

So I'm getting my hopes up.

So Sad

Another rejection.

But a nice one this time -- from Strange Horizons, saying good things, and yet; and the reason they rejected the story (it's my lizard story) is exactly the right reason.  The big harking hole at the center of the story.  Grr.  Why can't I fix that big harking hole?

In other news: here's why Mamas have trouble being writers.  Today is my writing day, the day when I have no classes until 5.30 p.m.  Instead of writing at 7.00 a.m. this morning what was I doing?  Cutting leaves out of brown and red construction paper and stapling them to the kid's shirt.  B/c she is Fall in her group's weather display, that is why.  And?  Instead of prepping for this yesterday, she was RPGing with her buds.

Then I was packing her lunch, and making her breakfast, and running out to the car in my bare feet waving her retainer ("You forgot your retainer!" I was hollering, as she and Herr Dr. Delagar were driving away, how amusing for the neighbors.)

Don't I like being a mother.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

More News

Go here for an exciting announcement about me and Crossed Genres.

Oh boy!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Look Here!

The new issue of Crossed Genres is up, with Lunch Money, by me, me, me!

You must (a) go and read it (b) leave comments (c) both here and there or (d) I will be crushed and think you do not love me.

(Yes, writers have very tender egos. What did you think?)

Be sure to read the other stories, too, of course. I am not the only good writer on board.

(Edited for stupid typo.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Having finished revising Martin's War (at least for now), and not being quite ready to start another novel (although, you know, that was how Anthony Trollope did it -- the minute he finished one book, he snatched up a sheet of paper and began the next), I am at a loss for anything to do.

It's an odd and vacant feeling and I do not like it.

I suppose I should go rake leaves, or fold laundry, or something.

I'm reading China Mieville's The City & The City, which is really good, also a fat book on the history of Modern Poetry which is annoying me mightly by leaving out all the women poets, nearly.  And I'm dealing with the prep for class tomorrow.  Other than that I am doing almost nothing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Empty Blogosphere & the Post-Holiday/Post Novel Stall

No one is blogging today.  What's the deal, are you all spending time with your families?  Or hungover?  What?

Me, I did in fact put away a deal of the rum and the associated alcohols yesterday, but nevertheless I am feeling okay.  Must be all the turkey and pie and sweet potato casserole that went down with it.  We had a fine holiday, in which no one got damaged badly: me and HDD and my folks and one of my & HDD's mutual students & the kid all met up & my father told rocket scientist stories & HDD & me & the student told English professor & NW Arkansas stories & the late afternoon late winter Arkansas hill weather was beautiful.

Today I do not know what I will do.  I have finished the revision.  I suppose I might start writing something else.  I can't think what, though.  

I wonder if the library is open.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TNX for Holidays

Since I don't have classes on Tuesdays this semester, my Thanksgiving break started last night.  I've been busy at work on the I-hope-final-revision of Martin's War since.  I've honestly lost count of how many times I've revised this novel now.  Thirty-seven times, I tell my writing class, but in fact I do not know.  Somewhere between twenty-four and five gabillion times, and we are not talking editing revisions, either, where I have just fucked with commas, we are talking major page-one re-structuring the entire creation revisions.  When I look back at the first draft of this novel, which I won't even tell you what the title of that was, it was so stupid, I barely even recognize it as the same novel.  It's twice as long, for one thing, and really dumb.  Apparently I need five gabillion revisions to be a good writer.  

Though I have done a lot of just fucking with commas, too.  If I never have to think about another comma, I will be so happy.

Anyway, besides revising this novel, I am working on another short story, as well as the first draft of my frog prince novel, and being Herr Dr. Delagar's sou chef.  (He is making Thanksgiving dinner.  I used to cook, but now I just fetch and scrub for Our Chef.  This is okay, since he is an excellent chef.  Also, more time to write!)

We're having turkey from the Green Egg* for our Thanksgiving dinner, plus some sort of cauliflower plus Gruyere cheese deal, plus homemade cranberry sauce, plus a sweet potato casserole (I get to make that, since it is not part of HDD's Yankee Tradition), plus crusty French rolls and a green salad.  Also, I will make the crudities.  My parents are in town -- they'll be attending.  Oh!  And pumpkin pie as well as banana cream pie for after.

Mostly, though, I plan to spend the next five days writing and writing and writing.

How's your holiday going to go?

*HDD's favorite toy, er, tool

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More On Healthcare

The Free Clinics came to Arkansas.

These are the same folk that take free medical care to third world countries, and took them to LA a while ago.  They went to Little Rock, and, as usual, had people lined up for hours.

No health care crisis in this country, nah.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Health Care Reform

A bit of movement on Health Care Reform, not supported by Blanche Lincoln, the Democratic Senator from my benighted state, and coming too late for one of my best students, who this past Saturday had a major stroke and is, as we speak, in one of our two local hospitals.

She had worked all of her life, as most of my students have, in one of our local factories, and suffered multiple health problems because of it, include severe hearing loss.  She also had no health insurance, although, because she had some Native American blood -- again, as many of my student do -- she was able to use what she called "the Indian clinic" in Tallequah.  

Well, she was able to use it when (a) she could reach it and (b) it could fit her into its schedule.  Since so many of our local impoverished depend on it, it was nearly always overbooked.

What this worked out to was that her high blood pressure (not to mention her hearing loss and bad vision and dental issues and other problems, but we'll stick to the blood pressure problem) went untreated for years.  All last summer she kept driving over to Tallequah, trying to get her medication adjusted.  Her car was ancient and unreliable, she had to sit for hours at the clinic, and often they sent her home unseen because the doctors were overbooked.

So: stress, poverty, illness, overwork, and she was a semester away from graduation, set to graduate this spring, so there's that too.

Now she's in the ICU, and who knows what she'll be able to do?

Nor was she that old -- late fifties.  With proper medical care, she would have been an excellent English teacher in the public schools, a productive member of our economy.  Now she's going to cost Arkansas a ton of money for quite some time.

Heck of a job, Blanche.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Support Your Local Indie SF Press

I know I've mentioned this before, but Crossed Genres is now having an official fund-raising drive. Buy the anthology and get prizes! It's not even a ton of money, either. Like $13 bucks, as I recall. Even in these financially sucky times, most of us can scrape that together.

And! If you buy it? You win a chance to maybe get a free copy donated to your library. How cool is that?

And! You help keep an indie SF magazine in business! One that publishes lots & lots of women writers, may I add?

Contribute if you can, and spread the word.

Marriage is Illegal in TX

Hey, it's one way to solve that Gay Marriage issue...

The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.


This is funny.

A young man calling himself “Robert Erickson” stood up at a teabagger rally that was organized to protest immigration, and made an anti-immigration speech.  He baited the audience with boilerplate nonsense about immigrants taking jobs and bringing crime, and then he started to tip his hand when he indicated that they also bring disease, namely small pox...then he led the crowd in chants of "Columbus, Go Home!"

Here in Pork Smith, as in much of the South, where the myth of Liberal Revisionism Rides high, it's a big deal in our elementary schools to push Columbus and his "vision" and the "real" story of Thanksgiving and all the rest of teh Red State mythos about America.  

(Hell, for awhile our school, which you'll remember is a Montessori school, where I pay way too much of my own money to have the kid indoctrinated in liberal values, was singing that appalling Lee Greenwood song in music class -- the one with the lines about thanking God he's an American, where at least he knows he's free?  The kid hated it for many reasons, but first and foremost because, as she kept pointing out to the music teacher, it started with the lines "if I had to start again with just my children and my wife," which, as she told the teacher, was sexist. [No, I did not tell her it was sexist, she figured it out on her own.]  It's just a song, the teacher kept telling her, and she kept reporting this reply to me, and I kept telling her to complain again, because nothing is just a song.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes, Columbus.  Well, we don't hate on Columbus, here in this socialist household, but I do point out to the kid that Columbus did not, in fact, discover America; that plenty of people were here when Columbus arrived, including many of her own ancestors; and that those ancestors were, many of them, damaged by the arrival of the Europeans.  

Then she goes to school, where her teacher will not allow this reading of history at all -- Columbus found America, don't speak about the Native Americans, or the South American indigenous people and what happened down there, that is not the point of the lesson.  The point of the lesson is to talk about the great things Columbus did.

Since we've raised the kid to argue (well, she's a Jewish kid, her job is to argue, as we often tell her) this does not sit well.

So I reckon she'll like this story.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

They've Got It Comin', The Sluts!

That's the reaction Zelda got when she told her students about the 10-year-old Ozark child who was tasered by the cop on Tuesday.

The police chief also defended the officer's actions, but hey, we're used to that by now. I'd expect the local police to defend their officers if they zapped a toddler, frankly. "Brat was coming at me with his rattler, Chief."

However, the students in Zelda's class defended the police officer's actions assiduously, and why?

"These ten year olds today, they're out there getting pregnant! They've got it coming!"

What? You -- What?

"They're out of control! You have no idea!"

(Because Zelda, see, who has raised two kids and is helping to raise several grandkids, she has never met a 10 year old....)

I just got a paper from a local kid, we're on the problem/solution paper now, explaining to me how crime was higher than ever, and teen pregnancies were soaring, and violence in schools was out of control, and drug use was sky-rocketing, and I said, dude, where are you getting this information?

Well, it's common knowledge, he said, confused. Everybody knows it.

They all believe that about the world, which is why they're happy to have the police be jack-booted thugs, tasering grandmas and grammar-school kids, turning the US into Prison USA, dumping endless amount of tax dollars into the War on Drugs and the War on Terror and the War on Sex, and meanwhile not a fucking nickel into educating any of them so that they could do some fucking research and find out that teen pregnancy was actually dropping until Bush started funding Abstinence Only bullshit and have a look at who, if a ten year old is pregnant, just who it might be got her pregnant, because I really, really, really fucking well doubt that ten year old child is out seducing other ten year olds, jeezus crap on a bicycle.

Common knowledge. Ai.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From Rottin' in Denmark

Only I think he's actually in Australia now --

A post on how disparity in our education system plays out, leading to disparity in the playing field. 

Overall, the whole thing just made me think of my University of London's professor's old catchphrase, 'You can blame people for their choices, but you can't blame them for their options.' 

U.S. Hunger

The Right-Wing narrative is that no one is hungry or poor in America -- "This is the only country in the world where our poor people are fat! Hurr Hurr Hurr!" -- but, in fact, not only are Americans poor, we're getting poorer.

No, it's not Third World Poor.  Only a few of us actually crouch under bridges and have no possessions at all.

But once people climb out of their basements and rip themselves away from their laptops, they'll find actual people, trying to live in some actual dire situations, here in this country -- living on twelve to twenty thousand a year, without health insurance, with no dental care (there's a reason my Arkansas students are missing teeth), with no vision care (I wince every year, at the first of the semester, when I write on the board for the first time, and five or six students move to the front row, squinting -- not because my handwriting is small, because it isn't -- they can't see), without enough money to buy food, the last weeks of the month.

Food insecurity, this gets called, and it's increasing these days, like everything else.

...about 49 million people, or 14.6 percent of U.S. households [...] a significant increase from 2007, when 11.1 percent of U.S. households suffered from what USDA classifies as "food insecurity" — not having enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.  Researchers blamed the increase in hunger on a lack of money and other resources.

Over on the Winger blogs, this gets dismissed -- if they didn't spend their money on plasma TVs, and bling, on malt liquor and smokes, on lottery tickets and cheap hamburgers, they'd have plenty of money for food.  If they would just learn to live on rice and peas, like we did when we were poor, it's not that these people are poor, it's that they're wastrels.  Let'm starve, it'll teach'm a lesson!

Any time anyone says shit like that, I know right off he's never actually been poor.  Here's a clue, for anyone who needs a smack with a clue stick: being low on funds for a few weeks, or even a few months -- that's not poverty.


Via Bitch magazine (my issue came yesterday), I bring you the ultimate in kitty cuteness.

A cat blog from Japan, about a cat named Maru.

If your kid is anything like mine (or you are!), wails of delight will soon ensue.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A.S. Byatt

Having finished A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book, I am here to report that my instincts halfway through the novel were correct. It's a masterpiece. Also, it's a truly feminist novel -- not a polemic, that is, but an actual work of art that speaks to feminist issues.

A few reviews I've seen have complained about the history infodumps scattered through the novel, but I can't agree. I suppose to those who have a perfect knowledge of Late Victorian/Edwardian history and culture, these may have seemed unnecessary and tedious; but how many readers have that knowledge? Knowing that culture is essential to understanding why these characters are doing what they're doing, and Byatt's renditions kept me (who knew quite a bit about the times and cultures) entertained.

As for the wide cast of characters, well, yes, we do have lots of characters. Dickensian is the operative word. It's a novel, not a tweet. That said, if the novel has a weak point, it's probably this one. I can see how she could have combined some of these characters, and cut others. Julian's role in the novel, for instance...?

But on the whole, this is a wonderful book, worth reading if only for the stories of Philip, our working class boy (who owes only a little to his literary ancestory Pip -- I like him so much better than the Pip in Great Expectations) who runs away from his impoverished life working at the pottery because he wants to make pots; Elsie, his sister; and Dorothy, who decides at 11 to be a doctor.

And then? At the End? WWI. AARGH!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Belated Returns of the Day!

The interwebs turned 19 last Thursday!

More Whining

  • It's hot here.  Mid-November and we still have days reaching to the 70's.  I do not like.
  • Thanks to our techno-friendly campus, students can demand to be advised 24/7!  I don't exactly know that I must comply, but I seem to be complying.  Advised a kid at eleven-thirty last night.  Yes.  Saturday night.  Am I a loser or what?
  • I'm revising Martin's War, which is supposed to come out in December or January.  Assiduously.  This is, I'm hoping, the final revision.  It's slow going.
  • I've submitted two stories and a novel to three different journals, on various continents of the planet.  Now I am waiting to be rejected.  This is my least favorite part of being a writer.
  • We got a stern email from the kid's teacher about how the kid did not do a presentation which was due this past Friday -- a book report, of all things.  She had read the book, but it had to have props and a written component.  She hadn't done that.  So we're spending the weekend on remedial sturm und drang. (The kid hates homework.)
  • Did I mention it was hot?  

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The Significance of the Franken Amendment; or, Why the Republican Party Should Be Set on Fire, Beaten With Shovels, Stomped to Bits, Shoveled Under, and Forgotten About Forever.

You'll remember this is the amendment that seems like a slam-dunk to most people with any sort of sense -- Federal money shouldn't go to companies that write clauses into their contracts allowing employees to freely rape other employees?  (The actual wording is more that we withhold defense contract money from companies that restrict employees from taking sexual assault cases to court.)

This amendment passed, as it should have, and handily.  OTOH, 30 -- THIRTY -- white male Republican Senators voted against it.  

(These would be, I imagine, the same white male Republican Senators who are verklempt about Federal dollars paying for abortions.  What do you think?  Who gets to control women -- that's the issue here.  Not the dollars. From Daryrl in the comments: 

So federal funds subsidizing abortions is bad but federal funds subsidizing rape is A-OK?)

Friday, November 13, 2009

In Which I Am Officially Conflicted

A very cool, very good small midwestern college is looking at Herr Dr. Delagar.

Oh boy.

Nate Silver Takes On Strategic Vision

I'm always suspicious of any group decrying the declining standards of today's et cetera.  When that group is on the Right, well!

Here is Strategic Vision, a Right-Wing Think Tank (say no more! say no more!) which claimed to have done a study (Awoohah! Awoogah! Raise all Shields!) on Oklahoma school kids, and alors!  Those kids today!  Taught by those Union-coddled over-paid lie-bral teachers!  Look!  Just look!

Couldn't any of'm tell you who the first President was!  When asked what the Supreme Law of the Land was?  No Idear!  When asked what the name of the two parties were in America's two party system?  They answered Republican and Communist!

So claimed Strategic Vision, anyway.

Nate Silver had his doubts about this survey.

For me, some of these results don't pass the smell test. I agree that public schooling in the United States needs to be improved, particularly in the areas of government and citizenship. But only 23 percent of high school students in Oklahoma knew that George Washington was the first President? Really? I have difficulty accepting that claim at face value. In 2008, 68 percent of Oklahoma fifth graders passed the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Social Studies Test.

He took the survey Strategic Vision claims to have given to Oklahoma School children and gave it to students in 10 Oklahoma school districts in the area he represents.  And his results do not show what Strategic Visions says their results do, but quite the contrary.

Which -- for anyone who knows any actual school children, or who has been in any actual schools lately, as opposed to anyone who simply hangs out at teabag rallies -- d'oh.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Byatt's The Children's Book: Review

I've been reading A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book for the past week; I've been reading it slow, because I can't bear for it to end.  

I read Byatt's Possession way back when it was published, a billion years ago.  That one won the Booker Prize, I believe.  Then I went out and read everything else she had written, though nothing else she had written up to that point was nearly as good as Possession.  The movie, when it came out, as I recall, sucked; or anyway, wasn't nearly as good as the book. 

I was a little wary, getting this book, despite a review I read somewhere, which promised me wonders.  But oh my is it good.

It seems like it will just be a kind of Dickensian knockoff, at first, although a very well written one.  Byatt is a brilliant writer.  But as we climb further and further into the book, and Byatt reveals more and more about her characters, the layers of meaning begin to build -- and oh, this is a great book.  Much better even than Possession.  I'll just say, because I don't want to give spoilers, that it's the most truly feminist book I have read in a long time.  But not a bangy bang the drum feminist.  Feminist in the sense that she's written a great work of literature about what it means to be a woman in the patriarchy feminist.

I love this book.  I think I want to marry this book.

Also -- if you know anything about E. Nesbit's life?  That will make you love this book even more.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The guy came and fixed the dryer. It dries so speedy quick now, it is amazing!

Now if only we could afford to replace the kid's computer...and get the other car fixed....and get a kitty (the kid forced me to add that bit)...we would almost be middle class again.

Support the Indie Press!

Crossed Genres is having a sale.  Buy the anthology, you get a free subscription.

They do good work over there.  Go have a look around.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Look Here

Thanks to Tree of Knowledge, I discovered a new web comic, which I spent way too much time reading with the kid today.

Questionable Content.  It's actually been on the net for years & years, so if like me you didn't know about it already, you've got years of catching up to do.  It's a delight, and I'm not just saying that b/c it has a main character named Marten too. (He spells it different from my Martin anyway.)  Also!  A cute little sidekick robot!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Write Your Very Own Goth Poetry

Just in case you don't have enough ways to burn time: one of my students sent me this:

Good Story

This story, over on Crossed Genres, by Tuulia Saaritsa, knocks me out.

It's called "Me and Susannah."  Go read.

Why I Hate Being Poor

One more morning at the laundromat.  We're scrounging up the price of getting the dryer fixed, but meanwhile....meanwhile, we get up at dawn, hoping to beat the fellas who hunker down right outside the laundromat door smoking their Kents (no smoking in the facility, but just outside the door is totes cool).

No luck.  Even at 8.00 smokers are up and smoking and doing laundry.  

Also Faux News is playing non-stop about the shooting at Fort Hood and what this means about how Obama is mishandling the Nation.

Oh well.  

We laundered just the same, and my migraine from the cigarette smoke is not so evil.  I've taken my Frova & Aleve & Xanax & am hoping for the best.  Also now it is only 11:15 and every bit of clothing in the house is laundered and put away.  

The kid wandered the laundry in huge circles, chewing her blueberry flavored Trident, and finally came awash by my chair.  "Mama."



"Suppose what."

"Suppose you had evolved a long tail.  Like three meters long.  Suppose it had a loop on the end of it.  You had evolved a loop on the end of it, like a noose.  Suppose--"

"What would be the possible evolutionary advantage to--"


"All right, all right."

"Do you think you could, if you had that tail, could you loop the tail over a branch, or a rafter, maybe, and hang yourself with your own tail?"

I stare at her.  She gazes back at me, intently.

"What the shit scene are you trying to write now?" I ask her.

"Do you think you could or do you think you couldn't?" she demands, exasperated.

My daughter the goth writer.  Ai.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hey! Good News!

Crossed Genres has accepted one of my short stories.  Does this rock or what?  It's a Martin story, one of my favorites, with a plot and everything: Lunch Money.  Coming out in December. 

If you're not familiar with Crossed Genres, it's a fine online SF magazine which each month publishes a different genre crossed with SF.  In December it's Action/Adventure crossed with SF. Martin shoots it up on an asteroid!  Be there or be square!


Demons! Demons!

Clearly I should not have eaten that Halloween candy.  Bad things are infesting my world.  First my dryer busts, now my computer (the one at school, not this one) went blue screen.  Also, we're stony fucking broke.  Also other hard stuff is happening as well.

Maybe I need an exorcism.  Can atheists get those?


"Yes, my child?"

"Can you come over and expel the demons I don't believe in?  How much would that cost?"

"You don't...."

"Yes, I'm an atheist.  Do you charge more for us or less?"


"That's too bad, since I'm stony fucking broke."


"Hello, Father?"

"Maybe you should try the Wiccans, child.  Do you have that number?"

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bad Economy Blues Part II

Krugman's column in the NYTimes today is worth reading -- well, it almost always is, but today especially.  He's talking about the need for more stimulus.  The bit that's been done already has helped some, and, as Krugman admits in the column, that's nice; but nowhere near enough.

What I keep hearing from Washington is one of two arguments: either (1) the stimulus has failed, unemployment is still rising, so we shouldn’t do any more, or (2) the stimulus has succeeded, G.D.P. is growing, so we don’t need to do any more. The truth, which is that the stimulus was too little of a good thing — that it helped, but it wasn’t big enough — seems to be too complicated for an era of sound-bite politics.

Of course, we've got the Teabag fringe, wailing (now, not when Bush was running us into debt paying for that useless war) about how our grandchildren will be SADDLED with DEBT!!!1!; but, as Krugman also notes, this is classic pennywise thinking.

Deficit hawks like to complain that today’s young people will end up having to pay higher taxes to service the debt we’re running up right now. But anyone who really cared about the prospects of young Americans would be pushing for much more job creation, since the burden of high unemployment falls disproportionately on young workers — and those who enter the work force in years of high unemployment suffer permanent career damage, never catching up with those who graduated in better times.

And, as I'll point out, to anyone who isn't living in that Winger (we'll just make up the planet we want to live in, where global climate change isn't happening, and the Iraq War is being won, and Reagan Was a Great President), things are dire out here in the actual world. Yesterday I had the third student of this semester alone drop out of school b/c she could no longer afford to be a student.  This one was a junior -- the other two had been underclassmen.

Rent and debt and food and health costs and fuel prices are so high these students are not able to stay in school.  It's not tuition.  It's the cost of living.  My freshman who quit mid-semester said he just couldn't spare the time off work.  (He works at Sonic, by the way.)

We're eating our seed corn.  For what?  To pay for a useless war?  To make health insurance executives even richer?  To prop up some demented old white guy's notion of what this country should be?

When will this be enough?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

The kid was going to skip Halloween this year, because what's the point, she said, gloomily, no one does it for the costumes anymore, they're just interested in the candy, and I can't eat the candy anyway (which she can't, given that nearly all candy is made with corn syrup these days and she's got the corn syrup allergy).

But after she and Herr Dr. Delagar carved the pumpkin (a cat pumpkin, and very impressive indeed) and it was out on the porch and our first few Trick or Treaters arrived (we only got about a dozen all night, because Trick or Treat is EVIL in Pork Smith, the local Pentecostals preaching violently against it, and most people not participating, to the extent that the city has developed a code system -- if you are participating, you turn on your porch light and put out a pumpkin, and if you aren't, you don't: I'd say one house in six, if that, was participating in our neighborhood last night).

Anyway, after about 20 minutes, the kid got restless and began looking very gloomy.  "We can still go out," I told her.

"I don't have a costume," she said.

So we built a costume -- a hat with ears, and I painted a nose and whiskers, we put a skirt over her leggings, and she was...well, I guess she was the Crazy Cat Lady.

We had an excellent time wandering the neighborhood, knocking on the cool houses -- despite the preaching, many people had gone all out, decorating their houses, and those who had pumpkins, had fine ones.  Also it was a chilly brisk night, cold and clear, with a nearly full moon: Halloween weather.  I told her about Halloween when I was a kid, when we roamed the streets in packs, without any adults around, and every house gave out candy, none of this "we don't believe in Halloween," because anyone who didn't give us candy got TP'd or their trash cans knocked over.  Hah!

"Not that I'm in favor of that behavior," I added hastily.

Now the kid is eating the candy she is allergic too.  I have warned her she will be sorry.  She says she'll be sorry later.  Right now it is good candy.

Yeah, she's growing up.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Is that a peanut in your Snickers bar?

Or could it be Satan?

Jeezly pop.  Just when you thought the Christers couldn't get anymore whack.

During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure ... During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.

I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference.


The dryer broke two days ago.  Of course we cannot buy a new one -- we can barely afford to get it repaired.  We had to wait until today, when we got paid, to go to the laundromat, that's how stony broke we are these days.  It is very sad.

Today, this morning, at dawn, we loaded up all the laundry, which was piles and piles of it, because the dryer has been breaking for days, and drove off to hunt down a laundromat (these are both scarcer and pricier than they used to be -- I will appall you later with tales of how much it costs to wash a load of laundry*).  The kid had never been to a laundromat and was terrified, who knows why.  I kept telling her she would love it.

"They have chairs," I said.  "Nearby will be a small store to buy chips and crap.  We can read and talk while the laundry spins.  It will be warm and smell good and we can watch the interesting people.  I got several of my best details for my best stories watching people at laundromats.  You'll see."

I was right, too.  She loved it.

"This is so cool," she told me, returning from a lengthy circuit of the laundry.  "We should come here every week!"

(Herr Dr. Delagar, I must tell you, was much less sanguine.)

*I forgot to include this. $2.25 a load.  But this is for the big machine, the front-load triple loader.  The smaller machine was only $1.50.  The dryers are a quarter for every 9 minutes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yeah, But I Was Making it Up...

This is the premise my SF world starts with: in about 2100, I say, America completely privatizes its prison systems (the real religion of America, as I frequently tell my students, being not Christianity but Capitalism).  

This is an idea I have seen floated about on a few right-leaning economic blogs already; left-of-center bloggers responded with why it was a really stupid idea, which was that once you make something profitable, d'oh, people do more of it.

The commenters on the blogs, though, were who interested me.  You can imagine the comments.

Anyway, I ran with that idea, especially since I had been reading half a dozen other books at the same time -- Billy Bragg, and Octavia Butler's work, and Adam Hochschild's Bury the Chains, and I forget the others.  I didn't read Douglas Blackmon's Slavery By Another Name until later, but that book got folded into my research on the revision level.

However: look here.  Apparently what I thought was fiction, ain't.  And I am entirely off on the year. Go figure.

Oh: and here is why this is a really bad plan.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And What Do You Do?

So we're at the memorial service for the kid's uncle's father, and it's in Fayetteville, which is still a fairly small town. Herr Dr. Delagar and I lived there for about ten years about ten years ago. Everyone knows us, more or less, in certain parts of that community, specifically in the academic community, which is who was at this service, since the uncle's dad was at the university for, heavens, 30 years? Something like that.

So, well. We're doing the bit after the service, where we mingle and chat, and an older doctor of something inquires what I am doing now, and Herr Doctor Delagar tells him how I am teaching at U.A. Fort Smith and how I have a book coming out.

"Oh?" he asks. "What sort of book?"

"It's a novel," I tell him. "Science fiction."

He looks very much taken aback. Then, with the air of one striving to be kind, he tells me, "I hear that's very respectable now."

Monday, October 26, 2009


Here, read this.

I cannot tell you how happy it made me, recently, when the kid, apropos of nothing, commented, idly, "I really like my body."

My heart slammed inside my chest.  I looked at her sidelong.  "Yeah?" I said, trying to sound calm.

"Yes," she said.  "I look good.  You know?  It's...a nice body."

"It is," I agreed, doing my utter absolute best to sound calm: like I hadn't been working full-out the past eleven years for just this moment.  

(We have no scale in our house, no one in our house ever goes on a diet, any discussion of food in our house has to do with recipes and what we like to eat, not with what we weigh or whether we're fat, I never, ever, ever, comment on anyone's weight, ever, we take walks because we like walking, we hike and such for the same reason, we don't keep crap in the house -- bad food I mean -- but that's because we don't eat bad food, it's nasty, not because we want to be skinny, blech, we have better things to do than fuss about who weighs what, when I was a kid growing up that was ALL that ANY girl every talking about, ALL girls were on diets, ALL girls were judged by their weight, ALL girls weighed themselves five and six times a day, and EVERY girl who weighed over the prescribed amount was WORTHLESS, I spent 90% of my adolescent years fretting about my weight, when I could have been -- shit, who knows, studying algebra? Learning Latin?  Learning to write deathless prose?  Hell if I know, because instead I memorized the # of calories in Oreos and carrots and mashed potatoes and tried like shit to weigh the "perfect" weight for my height, which would have, at long last, made me a real human being, instead of a valueless bit of filth, this was not happening to my child, no way, no how.)

 "You've got a fine body," I said.

"Yeah," she said, and went on reading Lemony Snickett.



The bacon/hummus split!

Right-Wing Reality

Here it is in action.

If you don't like the world, make up your own world.

One where Right-Wing Idiots aren't idiots at all, they're just pretending, see?


Herr Dr. Delagar is trying to print his dissertation, to submit it to the graduate school archives, which is the last requirement before he's officially done with the PhD hoops.  

Maddeningly, his evil computer has glitched on him (twice); then his printer wouldn't print; now he has run out of toner, which he did not discover until he had destroyed so much paper (of course the dissertation must be printed on %100 cotton bond) that now he has to go buy more extremely expensive paper, as well as another extremely expensive toner cartridge.


Sunday, October 25, 2009


Over at P.Z.'s place, he's got a post up about the -- I don't know what I'd call them: advertisements sort of sounds wrong to me, but okay, we'll call them that: ads for atheism being runs in NY city subways.

The post isn't really about the ads, which are fairly non-controversial (Put up by the Coalition for Reason, all they say is A Million New Yorkers are Good Without God -- Are you?).  It's about that, oh, how shall we phrase this?  That miseducated, overpaid Fox-news Republican-Welfare recipient, Sean Hannity, who, having heard about these ads -- I'm guessing someone sent him a link -- hopped around on TV fulminating, "Can you imagine?  What if some Christian group ran pro-God ads in the subways?  Can you imagine the outrage?"


Apparently Sean has been living in a cave, I would respond, except, well, he and his ilk are always responding this way, aren't they?  Almost everything they say makes it clear they don't live in the same reality as the rest of us.  They live on planet Wing-Nut, Planet Xtian Loon-O-Sphere, where Obama is trying to take their guns, where there really is a War on Christmas (despite the huge decorations being put up in my public park as we speak, and the aisles and aisles full of Christmas crap that has been for sale in every store in Fuck Smith for a good week already), where White Christian Males are the truly persecuted people in America, where those huge signs on I-40 (COME ON OVER TO MY HOUSE BEFORE THE BIG GAME THIS SUNDAY -- GOD) do not exist and where, as PZ points out, the hundreds of different sects of Xtian advertising in the subways and every other public space -- why, not allowed!  Just like no little Xtian boy or girl is allowed to pray over his school lunch or read the Bible at school!  Because of the evil Lie-brals!  Because we're the ones who hate!  We're the ones who are truly intolerant!  Not them!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Not Speaking English A Crime In Dallas

I knew this was a wet dream among my students, but I didn't know Dallas Police had started actually issuing tickets.  But hell yeah!  39 so far!  Driving While Latino!  Line'm up!

Gotta love America.  I mean, or get the hell out, right?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Many Happy (Late) Returns of the Day!

Yesterday was Ursula Le Guin's 80th birthday.  

Le Guin is one of my top ten favorite writers on the planet.  For a very long time, The Dispossessed was my favorite book -- that, and The Lathe of Heaven, and The Word for World Is Forest, and Always Coming Home...well, then there were her short stories.  Brilliant short stories.

Then Octavia Butler showed up, and I had two favorites.  And lately I have discovered Eleanor Arnason, so 3 favorites...but hey, this is an excellent problem to have.

In any case, Ursula Le Guin is not only 80 years old, she is still writing brilliant fiction.

Wow.  How cool is that?

Happy Birthday!

Look! More Conservative Respect For Women!

Ah, I can't even work up a comment about this one.  Gah.

streiff: I was an evaluator on a live fire exercise back in 84 when a herd of free range cattle moped into the impact area and about 200 troops decided they were much more fun to shoot at than 55-gal drums filled with dirt. I wish I had pictures of the outcome of that because that is what her photo op is like

Neil Stevens: Streiff: You aren’t comparing Dede with a cow are you? Because that wouldn’t be right. 

streiff: actually, I was thinking of one particular cow that had a rear leg chopped off by an M-60 machinegun
…no, that image wasn’t pretty: then again, neither was this
Most people realize that everything these guys say about feminism is bullshit, but it never hurts to be reminded.

Oh, yes: and notice that these tools respect our troops just about as much as they respect women. 


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shop Verb Noire Now!

Verb Noire's latest book is now available: Juke Box Bard.

Verb Noire, as I am sure everyone remembers, is the independent press which will soon publish Martin's War -- so everyone should scoot on over and buy Juke Box Bard.  

Support the team!  It's an anthology, which I'm sure (I've just bought it and will be reading it starting tonight) is chock full of goodness. (A more thorough review available once I've read it.)


When I said the Republicans were dead, stick a fork in them, I hadn't even seen this poll yet.

Republican Party favorability
Fav Unfav
All 21 67
South 48 37
NE 6 87
Midwest 10 78
West 12 75

More, over at Daily Kos

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh Woe is Feminism!

Maybe you heard about this ground-breaking study (pdf) which has found that since 1972 women have become progressively unhappier. See! See! the ant-feminist crowd is crowing. We told you so! Feminism is sooooo bad for the womens! Girls just want to stay home!

Except, of course, as Barbara Ehrenreich (among others who have looked at the study) points out in this column, well, no.

First, the "progressively unhappier" indications aren't that strong. White women are one point more likely to say they're unhappy in 2006 than white men in 2006, compared with the same groups in 1972 -- and, btw, this holds true for all groups of women/men. That is, stay-at-home moms vs working moms vs childfree women, etc. All equally happy/unhappy. So. Make of that what you will.

And: suicide has plummetted for women from 1972 to 2006, while staying stable for men, which, as Ehrenreich says, and as the study itself admits, would seem to be a more reliable measure of misery/unhappiness. Women were unhappy enough in 1972 that they were eating their guns. Not now. Isn't that a better measure of happiness than what box they tick off on a form?

And then there is this:

Another distracting little data point that no one, including the authors, seems to have much to say about is that while "women" have been getting marginally sadder, black women have been getting happier and happier. To quote the authors: "... happiness has trended quite strongly upward for both female and male African Americans. ... Indeed, the point estimates suggest that well-being may have risen more strongly for black women than for black men.

But you can see why, ah, certain groups and blogs are ignoring that data point. It's not like brown women are real people, is it?

Further: these are self-reported trends in happiness. That is, these surveys asked the women and men themselves how happy they were. Well, crap. There's this thing, see, called socialization. Women get socialized, and got socialized even more strongly back in the 1960-1970's than we do now, to claim to be happy even when we weren't.

I still remember my second grade teacher snapping at me in class, I mean just yelling at me, furiously, "Why don't you ever smile? Smile."

I need not tell you that she never said this to any little boys in class.

And what woman here has not been instructed, by some random man on the street, that we need to smile? Or scolded because we aren't smiling?

So: it's just barely possibly that the women in 1972, 1978, 1980, I'm just saying, were over-reporting their happiness; that women since then have become more able to report their actual feelings about how things are (kind of the way men do?) -- just maybe?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Not InBorn

I believe I had this exact same conversation with my mother when I was eleven:

The Kid: Please.

Me: I'm working! Is this important?

The Kid: But I need my waffle buttered...

Me: So butter it.

The Kid: But you butter things so much better than I do.

Me: And why do you think that is?  Do you think I was born knowing how to butter waffles?

The Kid: It seems like you were.  (Wheedling.) You do it so well.

Me: Buttering waffles is not an inborn skill.

(Here I make my crucial parenting error: I get up to butter the waffle.)

Me: (Still ranting): I can only butter waffles because I started buttering them when I was ten and between that age and this I have buttered eight million waffles.  (I am now buttering her waffle, mind you.)  What sort of parent would I be if I did not make you learn to butter your own waffle?

The Kid: (Smugly accepting her buttered waffle): One who does an awesome job of buttering waffles.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thieving Another Post

This one from Punkass Blog -- you'll remember Franken's bill, asking for an anti-rape clause in gov't contracts, the one 30 Republican Senators voted against (cause they're both pro-life and pro-rape, these guys, which makes perfect sense, really, when you think about it) -- anyway, here's a clip from Jon Stewart dealing with it.

Have fun!

No Blogging Today, So Sad

I am attending a stupid, er, I mean very useful workshop concerning why my department is not publishing more (could it be because we are spending all of our free time in workshops? Hmmm) and thus I will not be blogging this weekend.

Instead, I send you to Twisty, who with this post reminds me why I love her so much.

Uh-oh! In the self-twitpic, McCain has failed to completely disguise the fact that she has breasts. Her “tens of thousands of followers” retaliate for her public femaleness by loosing a torrent of abuse, a Public Shaming Action consistent with the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Peak Wingnut?

I begin to think Peak Wingnut is an impossibility.


This is not, apparently, a spoof, either. It's an actual, for reals, site.

You can't even make fun of the Looney Right anymore. Just too sick.

(More here.)

Why, Why, Why?

Over at EoTW again, more on why women won't/don't/can't.

Here's a lovely excerpt:


A. There’s nothing about the topic that attracts women. It’s probably more the founder effect. Women researchers were fostered early on by Joe Gall, and they got jobs around the country and they trained other women. I think there’s a slight bias of women to work for women because there’s still a slight cultural bias for men to help men. The derogatory term is the “old boys network.” It’s not that they are biased against women or want to hurt them. They just don’t think of them. And they often feel more comfortable promoting their male colleagues.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bible Lessons

So we're hanging out in the waiting room at our doctor's office this afternoon, the kid and me, and there's not much to read, basic Good Housekeeping journals and Hunting magazines, Dr. Phil is jabbing away on the TV, we're bored stiff. I pick up a bright primary-colored kiddy Bible and we begin reading it together solemnly.

We get to the Noah's Ark page and the kid's eyes widen.

The Kid: Mom...

Me: What?

The Kid: I just occurred to me...

Me: What?

The Kid: If there were only two animals of each kind on the boat? And only Noah's family?

Me: Yeah?

The Kid: God killed kittens?

Me: Yep. And puppies.

The Kid: And babies? Toddlers?

Me: (Trying not to laugh): Well, yes. But see, they were evil babies.

The Kid: Evil toddlers?

But Girls Just Like Pink!

You'll remember our sweet Con Iggulden, he of The Dangerous Book For Boys, who insisted, along with half the (conservative)(and home-schooling) world that he was not a misogynistic sexist, that little boys were just different from girls, that was all, and in his vast experience as a teacher he had come to realize that modern day schooling and childrearing was destroying boys, trying to turning hearty tough little boys into girls, just because the feminists and nasty teachers liked it that way, and so on, et cetera, you've heard this song before.

I open one of the catalogs I used to buy Hanukkah presents for the kid from, because it had cool toys, puzzles and kits and art supplies, and what do I find?  Yes, indeed.  On one page, The Dangerous Chemistry Set For Boys.

On the opposing page?  Spa Science, for girls.

Because, see, boys want to do chemistry, and be scientists.  Girls want to make perfume and facials and bubble bath.

I swear, this country was more evolved in 1910 than it is now.  Go read Dear Enemy and tell me I'm wrong.

From the Nation

What Whoopi Goldberg (Not a Rape-Rape), Harvey Weinstein (So-Called Crime), et al, Are saying In Their Outrage Over The Arrest of Roman Polanski

Calvin Trilling, October 2009

A youthful error? Yes, perhaps.
But he's been punished for this lapse--
For decades exiled from LA
He knows, as he wakes up each day,
He'll miss the movers and the shakers.
He'll never get to see the Lakers.
For just one old and small mischance,
He has to live in Paris, France.
He's suffered slurs and other stuff.
Has he not suffered quite enough?
How can these people get so riled?
He only raped a single child.

Why make him into some Darth Vader
For sodomizing one eighth grader?
This man is brilliant, that's for sure--
Authentically, a film auteur.
He gets awards that are his due.
He knows important people, too--
Important people just like us.
And we know how to make a fuss.
Celebrities would just be fools
To play by little people's rules.
So Roman's banner we unfurl.
He only raped one little girl.

How Batshit Crazy is The Right?

This Crazy:

Perhaps an eccentric citizen has become convinced that the President is an alien from Mars, and the courts should order DNA testing to enforce the Constitution.

That's not made up.  That's an actual Right-Wing Tea-bagger suing the U.S. Government, alleging that Obama is not eligible to be President, submitting stacks and stacks of reasons, and that is one of them.

Between this Birther nonsense and their obsession with what other people do with their sexual organs, can we please start ignoring the Right now, please?  Please?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So Why...

...are Americans so ignorant?

Jon Stewart clears it up.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Best Health Care in the World

Bill Frist was on the Maher show Friday night, doing a better job that I expected, frankly. He did repeat that canard about America having the best health-care system in the world, however, which is probably true if you are a rich fuck like him.

For the rest of us, however, the world looks a bit different.

The Consumers Union survey of 1,002 adults from Sept. 17 to 20 found that among the ways people have tried to cut back on health care costs:
-- 28 percent put off doctors' visits.
-- 25 percent have been unable to afford medical bills or medication.
-- 22 percent put off medical procedures.
-- 20 percent declined medical tests.
-- 20 percent skipped filling prescriptions.
-- 15 percent took expired medication.
-- 15 percent skipped scheduled dosages of prescriptions.

I have done nearly all of those, including skipping filling prescription and skipping dosages: not for the kid, but for me; and I have done them more than once. I'd say, in fact, I have done them often. (To be fair, my meds are fucking pricey.)

I've also gone without going in for medical care, especially when I know a visit is likely to lead to something expensive.

We have insurance, but it doesn't cover everything; and I am still paying off doctors and dentists and specialists and for Herr Dr. Delagar's manifold medical issues...about $300 off the top of every paycheck goes for medical bills, which that's over and above what we pay for insurance.

Who needs medical reform? Well, not Bill Frist, I guess.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize?

War or Car?

The Big Dog

The weather was so excellent yesteray -- cold and windy and grey -- that I took Big Dog for a walk over to the field by what I call the creek and what is actually, of course, a storm drain.  (The kid has gone to Branson with her BFF, so Herr Dr. Delagar and I are without child this weekend.)

It's the first long walk I've taken without the kid for sometime -- just me and the Big Dog, running and walking in the cold.  The field, as it turned out, was all boggy with the recent rain, so we got a bit muddy, and Big Dog was disappointed that I would not take off the leash to let him run off into the trees after the possum he could tell were hiding up in the trees, but other than that, a fine time was had by all.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

But...But...Why Does Norway Hate America?

Over here, Steve at Washington Post (read the comments, too, which are excellent) gives us a post on the conservative reaction to Obama's winning the Nobel Peace Prize, which, among other odd reactions, has been to insist that Reagan should have won it, or that George W. Bush should have won it (oh hell yeah, see because invading that country that was no threat to us and hadn't done a fucken thing see that counts as liberatin them ignorant savage Iraqis see and as for all that collateral damage which it weren't anywheres near 100,000 no matter what that fucken liberal media over there in England claims and them people still gettin shot and blown up over there and the women still gettin raped and all just shut up why do you hate America always talking about the bad things ain't you hear about the schools we painted and George W. LIBERaTED that country!!1!YEAH! course he should get the Nobel Peace Prize ahead a some appeasen N- uh Barry HUSSEIN Obama.)

Reagan of course should get it because he ended the cold war.  And reduced the size of the government.  And Star Wars.  And entered the world into decades of prosperity.

The really bizarre bit is these tools actually believe all of that.  But, as I have said before, they have been raised, all of them, in a culture that trains them to deny reality, to live in a false world, one their preachers and daddies tell them exists, not the one that is actually all around them, so it's not really all that bizarre, I suppose.

I keep having to struggle with it, just the same.

(While you're over at WP, see also this, which has been cracking me up all week.  Conservapedia Christians get funnier and funnier -- though, as Livia in comments notes, it's an uneasy kind of funny, considering how dangerous some of them also are, with their habit of shooting doctors and blowing up federal buildings and so forth.)

(Here's Fred on the Conservapedia Christian's translation project.  I love Slavktivist so much, mainly & especially for posts like this one, though his snark on the Left Behind books is also delicious.)

(Title of post corrected b/c, having been educated in Louisiana, I am an idiot.)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Jay Smooth

Jay Smooth goes off on Polanski

All I can add is fuck yeah.


Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize...

And the Right total loses its grip.

Okay, that's not fair. It's not like they've even had a grip for months & months & months.

But my stars, has this sent them over the edge!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

See, women just don't want...

Over at EoTW a fine post on the dearth of women in philosophy/women publishing in philosophy journals.

You'll remember a few months ago, a similar dust-up over why, why, why there are just no women writing decent SF...and of course there's RaceFail09, why, why, why aren't brown people writing SF...

And previously we have addressed the question of why, why, why aren't women writing manga, or comix, or going into the classics, or become engineers, and over and over people will claim, well, see, women just don't want to become engineers, brown people just don't want to write SF, no, no, they would much rather be nurses or housewives or clean bus stations, that's just how those people are.

Every time, guys (it's always guys, is it) appear to claim (1) if we changed things, it wouldn't be fair to the guys (2) I know a woman, and she says there's no problem -- in fact I'm married to her/related to her/fucking her, so why would I lie? (3) true there's lots of guys but probably that's b/c women don't want to be in this field anyway (dude, did you read the post?) and (4) where's your evidence that this is sexism?  If women would just submit in larger numbers/try harder/stop whining....

Then, of course, some woman shows up and agrees with them.  I don't want any help!  I don't want guy pity!  I want to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, by golly!  I want the guys to love me!  Because the system is too fair!

Why are women/people of color sick of this song?  Why are we reluctant to play with on this field anymore?  Why do you think?

The problem, of course, is they own the field.

Monday, October 05, 2009

October, Yay!

October is absolutely my most favorite of all months out of the year, for just such a day as we are having today -- dark grey and chilly, and now, in the late afternoon, a steady sluice of cold rain.  I am drinking coffee and reading Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs for about the 10th time, wrapped in my favorite deep green thermal shirt, watching the weather and enjoying myself enormously.

I like February too, mind you, and grey icy days then; but February is on the downhill slide toward summer, and how I hate summer.  October means winter is coming, months and months of dark and cold ahead: my sort of days, stacks of them, just like this one, all in a row.

It's heaven.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Bookshelf Update

Everything is on the shelves -- well! All the shelves we currently have, which still leaves six boxes in the room where we keep the TV and the kid's bins of Legos and blocks.  (She's not quite old enough to give up blocks, and Herr Dr. Delagar and she still go on Lego sprees, frequently.)

I've ordered two bookshelves from Etsy, which do you know about Etsy?  Way cool site I have only just discovered.  I ordered one of these and one which is gone because I must have ordered the last one.  Now I'm waiting for them to arrive, but even when they do, we'll still have (I estimate) four boxes of books stacked along the TV room wall.

We're going to sell some, I think, to a store in town that buys used books; and donate some to the public library; and give some to TOLP's kids; and some to Zelda and Mouse, if they want them, and some to the students at our university.  At the end of this process, I hope, I hope, we will be without books anywhere but on the shelves...oh, yeah, and the six crates in the closet. Um. Erm.  Well.

But you should see how tidy the front room looks!  Plus!  I vacuumed everywhere (except the TV room) yesterday evening.  Not just around things as I have been doing for about six months.

My OCD is so happy.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Kid Writes Poetry

Herr Dr. Delagar taught a poetry workshop at the kid's school today, and the kid wrote this poem:


The blackbird soared over the old year's grass
The light glinting off its ebony wings
An orange Arkansas sunset framed the scene
Then, eyes glinting, wings moving,
It flew into the woods like a bird-shaped chunk of night.

(Isn't my baby a genius?)

More from the Right

Silly Women!  Votes are for Men!

Which you can bet in public some on the Right will claim not all of them believe this, and sure, not all of them do, just like not every Republican is racist.

On the other hand, we've got all those "studies" they love to do, showing how "if only" women didn't have the vote (or brown people didn't, or those with more than 13 years of education didn't, et cetera et cetera), Republicans would have swept every election since 1940.

So what's that tell us, except that when they're alone in their manky little hearts, they think only people who believe exactly what they believe ought to have the franchise?

Update: Ha! Here's Myca, who said what I was trying to say, over at Alas, a Blog, earlier than I did and much better!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall/Not Whining

It's fall here, or trying to be.  Cooler weather, trees that have a small edge of red leaves along one border.  I'm trying to work on my lizard story (I write SF about lizards and frogs these days, it's very odd) and not sink into a slough of despond about why should I write anyway.  The weather is helping.

Also!  We are up to N on the shelves.  Though it is obvious our weeding out and boxing up of books has not been thorough enough.  Or else we need more shelves.  A bigger house?  To move to the practice of using Kindle instead?

I am tired of cooking, and Herr Dr. Delagar is too busy.  So we are living on Nutella with a spoon from a jar and apples, also diet Coke black with rum mixed in.  This cannot be such a good thing, I am fairly certain.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Re-Ordering

In a fit of pique over being rejected one more time, I decided the the time had finally come to put the books in the house in order. (They had been stacked all over the place, on top of other bookshelves, in front of books on the bookshelves, along walls, piled on windowsills, in baskets in corners, heaped up in boxes, anywhere that was level and many places that were not.) So: Saturday afternoon we bought a new bookshelf and six storage boxes and all weekend long we have been weeding and sorting and reshelving books.

(Any book we are not going to read or consult in the next year or two, we are committed to putting in a box and storing in the back closet. It is the only way to live in thise house. We have decided! Unfortunately so far Herr Dr. Delagar only wants to store my books and I only want to store his. Sigh.)

We are up to the H's. This is going to take awhile.

I am hoping, though, that eventually we will have a house we can vaccuum and dust and mop, and one where we can find books again. Wouldn't that be splendid?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I got a story rejected.

So sad.

It's part of the life of being a writer, I know, but I'm gloomy anyway.

I'm working on my lizard story, hoping the act of writing itself will cheer me up.

Fuckity fucking fuck, BTW.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Real Shock Here

But states that are more religious are states that end up with more pregnant teens.

How come? Well, maybe because, like the religious kids at my kid's school, they don't get taught anything about birth control or even basic sex education at all? Ya think? Just say no, that's what they get taught. Don't do it until you get married, that's all you need to know, that's what they get told.

Because, yes, that works really well. On MARS.